Four seasons in, and The Handmaid’s Tale may finally – finally – allow handmaid June to leave Gilead.
Elisabeth Moss, who plays lead role June in Hulu’s dystopian drama, has teased that season four will take an unexpected new direction, adding that the show “can’t just keep June in this place where she’s tortured all the time. It’s boring” (via The Times).
However, in the same interview Moss also hinted at a bittersweet conclusion for her character; when asked whether the series will have a happy ending, she responded: “It depends what you define as happy.” Could this mean that June finally makes it to Canada – only, like Emily (Alexis Bledel), to meet a similarly difficult road ahead?
Filming recently resumed on the fourth instalment of the drama, although we’ll still have a longer wait than usual for its air-date, given the long delays due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Following months of filming delays, the long-awaited fourth instalment now has a newly forecast air-date for 2021.
The drama is also featuring a brand new cast member: teenage actress McKenna Grace of Gifted and Fuller House fame, who will be playing the young, outwardly-compliant (and outwardly sane) wife of a much older Commander.
Cast member Bradley Whitford (who plays Commander Joseph Lawrence) revealed back in August 2020 that cast and crew were quarantining for a fortnight prior to filming re-starting imminently.
The acclaimed series is often cited for its troubling parallels between the series and real life, but we may also see the show’s worldview shift following the global coronavirus pandemic.
Moss has teased that the show would be changed slightly from its pre-pandemic version, before telling The Hollywood Reporter: “I have notes in my book about human contact and human touch, isolation versus community… all these themes are really already present in season four.”
The upcoming season will focus on Offred/June (Elizabeth Moss), who survived the gunshot wound from season three’s finale, as she continues on her mission to save the women and children of Gilead and transport them safely to Canada – while her husband Luke (O-T Fagbenle) will seek revenge on Fred.
In season three, Commander Fred Waterford sold his wife Serena Waterford out to Canadian authorities but was then arrested himself as well.
In a recent interview with GoldDerby, Joseph Fiennes (Fred) revealed: “The commander is also going to be arrested, he is in a sort of holding cell at the moment [in season four],” before suggesting that we could see him turn “informer and to become for Canada the conduit in the machinations of Gilead”.
The Handmaid’s Tale also sees characters frequently break out of their “hero” or “villain” mould – and when it comes to Commander Lawrence, it’s still all to play for, according to series star Bradley Whitford when he spoke to TVLine.
We should also expect to watch Aunt Lydia get her comeuppance this series, as actress Ann Dowd has teased that The Commanders “cannot wait to place blame on anyone but themselves and Lydia of course, is front and centre to receive that”.
However, given that The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel novel to The Handmaid’s Tale, isn’t getting its own spin-off, might we see some of the book’s storylines woven into the TV show?
Here’s everything we know about season four so far, including potential air dates, casting, and plot-lines.
When is The Handmaid’s Tale season four’s release date?
Unfortunately, The Handmaid’s Tale season four premiere has been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hulu has announced.
Originally set for release this autumn, the series has been delayed after COVID-19 halted production in Canada back in March like many other shows.
Whitford, confirmed in late August 2020 that production was restarting, but only after a mandatory “hardcore” two-week quarantine period for everyone involved.
He told TVLine he had spoken to “all the Handmaid’s people, because we’re going back”.
Moss told Extra in June that they had only just begun shooting season four when filming was stopped.
She said: “We were only two weeks in, so we actually have an entire season to shoot. We want to go back to work because families have people to support and rent they need to pay, but at the same time no human’s life is worth a TV show. We’re just trying to figure out how to do it safely for everybody.”
This was confirmed by Ann Dowd (Aunt Lydia) at the end of June when she told This Morning that she had only read scripts for the first two episodes which had been filmed prior to the lockdown.
Although fans will have to wait a while for the fourth season, Hulu has released a teaser trailer which should give enthusiasts a taste of what’s to come.
The Handmaid’s Tale season 4 trailer
Hulu recently released a trailer for the upcoming fourth series, which shows June is still alive, despite being shot last season, and is ready to rescue more children from Gilead’s oppressive regime.
“We’re just getting started,” a determined June says in the trailer as she attempts to round of a crew of handmaidens to wage war on the country.
It looks as if Aunt Lydia is prepared to put up a fight though, with her declaring June “beyond redemption” in the trailer.
What will happen in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4?
Inspired by Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in a dystopian future version of the United States and centres around Gilead, a totalitarian society where women are forced to become “handmaids” and bear children for its leaders.
**Spoilers ahead for The Handmaid’s Tale season 3**
At the end of season three, June (Elisabeth Moss) managed to help a group of children escape Gilead by plane, but was seriously wounded in the process and carried away by her fellow handmaids at the end of the final episode.
Serena Joy also conned her husband Fred Waterford into travelling to Canada to be charged for war crimes — but in response, he exposed her own wicked deeds (and in the process revealed that Nichole isn’t his biological daughter, her real father is Nick).
From the trailer, it looks as though season four will continue to follow the rising resistance in Gilead, while also delving into the devastating fallout for the Waterfords.
With the state of Gilead being turned upside down by June’s revolutionary efforts, season four isn’t looking good for Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd).
Speaking on This Morning, Ann Dowd said that Lydia has “got a lot to prove”.
“The Commanders cannot wait to place blame on anyone but themselves and Lydia of course, is front and centre to receive that blame and I’m sure she blames herself,” she said.
“How could she have missed this? She had all the signs that the girls were acting strangely. I knew that June was up to something and yes, I did not act. So yes, I think she’s got a lot to prove.”
Series creator Bruce Miller also hinted at a potentially unhappy fate for heroine June. Speaking to TV Guide, he said: “All the people in Toronto are showing us what June has waiting for her if she does ever get out. You’re kind of telling those stories of possible routes for June, but it’s not all going to be sunshine and lollipops.
“We are following June, and June lives in Gilead, and Gilead is not a nice place. And it will continue to be not a nice place. And we try to be very realistic about what would probably happen and how things work.”
- Read more: Ann Dowd reveals Aunt Lydia is at danger from the Commanders in The Handmaid’s Tale season 4
It also sounds like June’s husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), will seek revenge on Fred Waterford, his wife’s rapist. The actor said of his character to Express, “Oh, I think his hope is increasing. I think, more than ever before, there are signs of cracks in the wall of Gilead.” He later added: “And he’s ready to smash through that — if he could muster a way.”
Whitford, has also hinted that he had no idea which side his character would “land” on, in an interview with TV Line.
“Lawrence is clearly conflicted, and the reason he’s able to be conflicted I think is because of Eleanor, his wife — and Julie Dretzin, by the way, was just, like, absolutely perfect… I really don’t know where he’s going to land. I honestly don’t. I’m not trying to be cute, and I have a sense that Bruce isn’t sure either, and that just makes it more terrifying for June.”
Will season four be the final season of The Handmaid’s Tale?
Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, executive producer Warren Littlefield implied that several more seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale could be on the way.
“We have not planned Season 4 to be the end, but we also look to Margaret [Atwood]’s book The Testaments and know that that story takes us 15 years into the future,” he told TV Guide. “We don’t see ending it in [Season 4], and I can honestly say to you, we don’t have a definitive out. But I think we want to keep the bar high, and it would not be a bad thing to leave the audience wanting more and then we could ideally shift into The Testaments.”
Who’s in the cast for The Handmaid’s Tale season four?
It’s not yet confirmed which of the original cast will return, but it seems likely that we’ll see central cast members reprise their roles – including Elisabeth Moss as June.
Although she suffered a potentially lethal wound during the season three finale, the trailer for season four reveals that June is in fact alive and ready to continue her mission of rescuing the children of Gilead.
Jospeh Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Max Minghella, O-T Fabhenle, Amanda Brugel and Bradley Whitford are to set to return as well as Ann Down who plays a terrifying Aunt Lydia.
We also have a brand new recurring cast member: McKenna Grace (The Haunting of Hill House) as Mrs. Keyes, the intelligent teenage wife of a much older Commander, according to Deadline, who uses her calm and pious exterior to mask “turmoil, even insanity, on the inside”.
Why are there delays to The Handmaid’s Tale season four?
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, The Handmaid’s Tale had already faced delays which had seen it move down the calendar from summer to autumn.
Speaking to Digital Spy about the initial delay, Moss revealed: “Part of the reason why it’s taken a little bit longer, besides just timing, is that we are making it a bit of a bigger season this year. We’re really stretching the limits of our capabilities, production wise, and we’re on the move a lot.”
She added: “We’re not sitting in a studio between four walls very much, so it really is a bigger season and that’s taken a little [longer]. I’ve been in Toronto since mid-January prepping.”
These delays in combination with the halt in production caused by the coronavirus pandemic have pushed series four to 2021.